When California parents divorce, they must make decisions about child support and custody. If they cannot figure these matters out on their own, the court will decide for them. When the court makes these decisions, they make them based on what is in the child’s best interest. But what does this mean?

VeryWell Family looks at what a child’s best interest means in court terms. The court looks at many things when deciding what is in a child’s best interest. This can include:

  • The child’s age
  • Evidence of parenting ability
  • Safety
  • Consistency
  • How changing an existing schedule will impact the child

Depending on how old a child is, courts may listen to their wishes. If they request for one parent to have primary custody, courts may grant that. They often award custody of young children to whoever the primary caregiver is.

Evidence of parenting ability involves a parent’s ability to meet the child’s needs. This includes basic physical and emotional needs. It includes clothing, shelter, food and medical care. Education and future support for scholastic endeavors is crucial. So is the ability to provide parental guidance and loving support.

Courts like to keep things consistent for children. They often do not prefer options that will disrupt a child’s life. Safety is also crucial. If a court believes a child will not be safe with a parent, they will not award that parent custody. Courts will examine the way schedule changes may affect the child. This helps keep things consistent. They often avoid negative changes, but may give the okay for positive ones.